Being a long-time game master of tabletop RPGs there is nothing more thrilling than the prospect of a high-quality co-op action game that takes place in the Forgotten Realms. Dungeons & Dragons is the original d20-rolling game. It has the best storytelling, worldbuilding and high-fantasy badassery. However, Dungeons & Dragons Dark Alliance is a great example of a critical failure. This game takes all the potential and turns it into a boring, tedious and void of storytelling. That’s more than any group of PCs breaking up the party.
Dark Alliance is a co-op action game that features four players. You will be hacking, slashing and blasting your way through all sorts of monsters and beasts. This is the most dungeon-delving-style action brawler you’ll ever see. You’ll have seen most of Dark Alliance’s offerings after playing it for 10 minutes. I know this because I spent 12 hours getting to the credits and then another dozen going through the painful solo run.
It’s not easy to get one in because the story is a simple bounty-hunting story about “kill these guys off your naughty List”. The campaign revolves around a powerful evil shard, which has caused the bad guys’ enemies to come together to seize it. It’s up to you to convince them that evil is not acceptable. Although Drizzt Don’Urden, the dark-elf, is a great character to play for Dark Alliance, it’s disappointing that they’re not used well. Although each protagonist will have brief dialogue exchanges as you travel, it is very short. The story doesn’t really do much to flesh out their character motivations or personalities. The Forgotten Realms have a long history of worldbuilding. You can just tick off the targets and then go home.
Dark Alliance was designed for co-op, but you can also play it solo.This is a terrible idea!. Please don’t. It is relatively straightforward to run through the levels with four players, but it is difficult to do solo. Dark Alliance’s flaws are magnified and give off an iridescent glow. It is impossible to create a cohesive party experience. You must use the limited strengths and weaknesses to force your way through each level. As a result, the story suffers as well. The little dialogue that existed in co-op has been replaced by monologuing and blaming no one. The campaign’s monotony and blandness are still there, but it’s much harder to bear when you don’t have anyone to share in the suffering.
The co-op mode is a great way to improve your game. You can draw on each other’s strengths and weaknesses and trigger abilities in synergy. It also allows you to work together and fight off bosses’ excessive health bars. It’s possible to pass a difficult boss or area with a higher difficulty in a few moments. I found it quite satisfying and gratifying, even if it was only for a brief moment. This doesn’t mean Dark Alliance has any better or more exciting games than it does, but it does make it clear that Dark Alliance offers little to no real excitement and brings nothing to the table.
Dungeons & Dragons Dark Alliance should be a great co-op edition of the paper-and-pencil tabletop RPGs I love for decades. It just isn’t. It’s boring and repetitive, with many bugs and irritating design choices. You can’t play it alone, which is an unbalanced nightmare. While I do praise the faithful look and feel that captures Forgotten Realms’ great setting, there isn’t much else to be said about this messy hack-and slash RPG.